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More Aboriginal Women Getting Breast Screens

GEGAC Aboriginal Health Worker Carmel Hood at BreastScreen Victoria’s mobile breast screening bus at GEGAC earlier this year. Photo: Troy Brown

Fifty local Aboriginal women and 72 women in total had their regular breast cancer checks done when BreastScreen Victoria’s mobile screening bus visited GEGAC in May.

This was a big increase in the number of women that were screened when the bus visited GEGAC in 2022.

“It’s great to see more of our women doing this important thing to prevent breast cancer,” said GEGAC Aboriginal Health Worker Carmel Hood. “I think awareness is growing in community that getting a breast screen is no drama. Hopefully women who have had their checks will tell their sisters and daughters and family members about it, and we’ll be able to keep increase the number of women that get a regular breast screen.”

Of those 72 women to get screened, 24 were having their first breast screen.

“The higher the number of breast screens we’re able to get done, the smaller the number of Aboriginal women that will die of breast cancer,” Carmel said. “That’s what motivates us.”

GEGAC Aboriginal Health Worker Trainee Kayla Harrison.

GEGAC is one of 15 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) across Victoria that host visits from the BreastScreen Bus, as part of the Beautiful Shawl Project – a coordinated effort to increase breast cancer screenings by Aboriginal women.

Carmel and her colleague on the Aboriginal Health Team, Kayla Harrison managed the BreastScreen Bus visit to GEGAC and spent many hours coordinating appointments and arranging transport for local women to get tested.

This kind of high quality community-led service is one of the reasons that the Beautiful Shawl Project has been nominated for a Victorian Public Health Award.

Aboriginal women over the age of 40 should get a breast screen every two years. 

More than 75 percent of breast cancers occur in women over 50 and regular breast screens are the best way to find breast cancer early.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Aboriginal women in Victoria.

Carmel said that Aboriginal women did not have to wait until the BreastScreen Bus came back to get their breast screen.

“If you’re over 40 and you haven’t had a breast screen, or if you’re overdue for yours, GEGAC can arrange it for you,” she said. “Just give us a call. We can book the appointment for you here in Bairnsdale, and an Aboriginal Health Worker can come with you to your appointment if that’s what you’d like.”

To learn more about getting a breast screen supported by GEGAC, call our Medical Reception on 5150 0760 and ask to speak with a member of the Aboriginal Health Team.